On this edition of The Kona Edge we go through the nutrition strategy with Aida Wasilewski. She shares her Ironman nutrition tips with us and the reasons why she keeps to eating real food leading up to and after race day. We find out if it is solids or liquids that work for her on race day and the lessons she has learned from the nutrition mistakes made.

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BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown. Time to chat some nutrition and a returning guest joining us now all the way in California. Aida Wasilewski. Aida welcome back. We haven’t touched on nutrition at all in our previous chats but it is something that you take pretty seriously because it can make or break your race, can’t it?

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Yes. Thank you for having me back. Yes, I’m a very, as far as nutrition goes, a very basic person as far as my race day nutrition goes. Small breakfast, my usual breakfast which can be either oatmeal and a cup of coffee or it could be an English muffin with peanut butter, honey and banana with a cup of coffee. That’s all I eat before I go for an Ironman race.

During the race, it’s all liquid nutrition for me. I don’t really consume any solids and I change it up. I have my nutrition but I go for Gatorade or PowerAde that’s offered on the course and water. So, I don’t have that flavor fatigue and I don’t have a strict ‘I have to consume this many ounces in an hour’. I literally go by feel knowing that I have to eat enough to keep myself going. I do that during training so I know approximately how much I need. I’m a heavy sweater so my formula has all my sodium in there so I’m not having to reach for salt pills, so it’s very basic and lots of water.

I also know from just the way my belly feels how I’m doing with digestion and if I need more water to help with the digestion vs starting to get bloated and feeling like I’m not processing, then I slow down the nutrition and I take in more water. I always keep my goo’s handy cause that’s my go-to if I’m not able to do my liquid nutrition that I have or I’ve gotten tired of it a goo does me just fine. Getting on the run I do not carry anything with me. I solely depend on what’s on the course. Aid station to aid station. Water, coke, I’m there. Water, coke I’m there. Water, coke and I feel it when I’m starting to get a little low on nutrition I’ll grab Gatorade. But I don’t do solids. That’s pretty much it for race day.

After racing and after training is my time to eat. That’s the one I focus on mostly. I’m a very clean eater and I’m an eater. I love my food. Give me a big plate of salmon, some black rice or wild rice with asparagus, sweet potatoes, I’m the happiest girl. I love to cook. I cook most of my food. I’m not a bar person, I’m not a juice person. There’s a lot of that in our sport and I’m not a vegan or a gluten free or any of that. I eat real food and I stay away from processed foods. I’m not a fast foods person. I think not being raised in the United States helped me with that one. I’m not a bag of chips kind of person or a cookie person but I love my ice cream. I don’t deprive myself. I really do eat food. I’m not much into alcohol so that’s not an issue for me. It’s not something that I feel I have to deprive myself of till after race. It’s just not part of my food thing. What else can I tell you? I like real food, I like food.

BRAD BROWN: It sounds like it’s balanced. You talk about not depriving yourself of anything. You’re able to have things but everything in moderation.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Yes, and I don’t measure food and I don’t weigh myself and I’m definitely not the, if you were to see me on the podium with all the rest of them, I’m definitely not the skinniest. There’s a lot of that in our sport, probably in all age groups but probably in the older women’s age groups, the lighter you can be the better and I truly do believe if anything if you want longevity in this sport you need to take care of your body. Eating food is the way to do it. Supplements don’t do it and not eating and keeping your weight or your body fat low is not the way to do it because it plays havoc with your hormones and it just is not going to make you healthy. We do this first and foremost to be healthy.

For me, that’s why I was working out, or started working out. I want to be healthy, so I’m not one who measures and I’m not worried about, I eat real things. I’ve never been a diet food person so no low fat this or low fat or yoghurt for ice cream, that doesn’t do it for me. If I’m going to eat ice cream, I’m going to eat ice cream.

BRAD BROWN: Make sure it’s the real thing. Aida, and then just finally a mistake, or the biggest mistake you’ve made nutritionally and the lessons you’ve learnt from it?

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Probably actually eating too much. I think a lot of people feel, and I did it, that I needed to have more food. That just made me heavy and sloshy. Then you can’t run because you’re not digesting. I heard, and I didn’t do it because I’d heard it then, I actually only heard it this year at Ironman South Africa, Paula, her name is out of my head, South African World Champion, female….

BRAD BROWN: It’s on the tip of my tongue as well, I’ll think of it. Tell us the story and I’ll have it for you.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: She was there and she actually said it the best. She said don’t be greedy. You don’t need that much. Just give yourself enough because if you overeat it takes your body a lot longer when it’s overheated and working hard, to digest, and for you then to come back from it, versus if you’re hungry. The moment you give it some food, boom, you’re right back. Did that make sense?

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely it makes a ton of sense. I think that that’s great advice. You’re spot on I think a lot of people do overdo it and I think moderation is the key. I’m guilty of extremes. I like to hang out on the dark side every now and again but I suffer the after effects because of it.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Yes. It slows you down a lot. It takes a while before you’re able to get back to it.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. Aida, thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge much appreciated. Best of luck and we look forward to following your progress and seeing what you’re up to next.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Thank you so much for listening to me and having me.